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STEMAmbassadors: Developing Communications, Teamwork, and Leadership Skills for Graduate Students

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Conference

2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Professional Development for Graduate Students

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Page Count

14

DOI

10.18260/1-2--35207

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/35207

Download Count

62

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Paper Authors

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Astri Briliyanti Michigan State University

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Astri is a graduate student in the Department of Community Sustainability, Michigan State University. She previously worked as a researcher and urban planner consultant in Indonesia, helping the government with the creation of spatial and development plan, as well as policy analysis and program evaluation. She is interested in program evaluation, sustainable tourism planning, and urban design.

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Julie W. Rojewski Michigan State University

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Julie Rojewski manages various career and professional development programs at Michigan State University. Prior roles have included managing the MSU Broadening Experience in Scientific Training (BEST) grant (funded by NIH), directing the MSU ADVANCE grant (funded by NSF), and other positions in faculty development around teaching, mentoring, leadership, communications, and teamwork. She has a particular professional expertise with program planning, management, and evaluation and an academic interest in leadership development and professional development.

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Dirk Joel Luchini Colbry Michigan State University

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Dr. Dirk Colbry is the Director of HPC Studies in the newly formed Department of Computational Mathematics, Science and Engineering (CMSE) at Michigan State University. Dr. Colbry earned his Ph.D. in Computer Science and his principle areas of research include machine vision and pattern recognition (specializing in scientific imaging). Dr. Colbry also conducts research in computational education and high performance computing. From 2009 until 2015, Dr. Colbry worked for the Institute for Cyber-Enabled Research (iCER) as a computational consultant and Director of the HPCC. Dr. Colbry collaborates with scientists from multiple disciplines including Engineering, Toxicology, Plant and Soil Sciences, Zoology, Mathematics, Statistics and Biology. Recent projects include research in Image Phenomics; developing a commercially-viable large scale, cloud based image pathology tool; and helping develop methods for measuring the Carbon stored inside of soil. Dr. Colbry has taught a range of courses, including; communication "soft" skills, tools for computational modeling, Numerical Linear Algebra, microprocessors, artificial intelligence, scientific image analysis, compilers, exascale programing, and courses in program and algorithm analysis.

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Katy Luchini-Colbry Michigan State University

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Katy Luchini-Colbry is the Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Services at the College of Engineering at Michigan State University, where she completed degrees in political theory and computer science. A recipient of a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, she earned Ph.D. and M.S.E. in computer science and engineering from the University of Michigan. She has published more than two dozen peer-reviewed works related to her interests in educational technology and enhancing undergraduate education through hands-on learning. Luchini-Colbry is also the Director of the Engineering Futures Program of Tau Beta Pi, the Engineering Honor Society, which provides interactive seminars on interpersonal communications and problem solving skills for engineering students across the U.S.

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Abstract

STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) graduate programs excel at developing students’ technical expertise and research skills. The interdisciplinary nature of many STEM research projects means that graduate students often find themselves paired with experts from other fields and asked to work together to solve complex problems. At [University], the College of Engineering has developed a graduate level course that helps students build professional skills (communications, teamwork, leadership) to enhance their participation in these types of interdisciplinary projects. This semester-long course also includes training on research mentoring, helping students work more effectively with their current faculty mentors and build skills to serve as mentors themselves. Discussions of research ethics are integrated throughout the course, which allows participants to partially fulfill graduate training requirements in the responsible conduct of research. This paper will discuss the development of this course, which is based in part on curriculum developed as part of an ongoing training grant from the National Science Foundation. 18 graduate students from Engineering and other STEM disciplines completed the course in Spring 2019, and we will present data gathered from these participants along with lessons learned and suggestions for institutions interested in adapting these open-source curriculum materials for their own use.

Students completed pre- and post-course evaluations, which asked about their expectations and reasons for participating in the course at the outset and examined their experiences and learning at the end. Overall, students reported that the course content was highly relevant to their daily work and that they were highly satisfied with the content of all three major focus areas (communications, teamwork, leadership). Participants also reported that the structure and the pacing of the course were appropriate, and that the experience had met their expectations. The results related to changes in students’ knowledge indicate that the course was effective in increasing participants understanding of and ability to employ professional skills for communications, teamwork and leadership. Statistical analyses were conducted by creating latent constructs for each item as applicable and then running paired t-tests. The evaluation also demonstrated increases in students’ interest, knowledge and confidence of the professional skills offered in the course.

Briliyanti, A., & Rojewski, J. W., & Colbry, D. J. L., & Luchini-Colbry, K. (2020, June), STEMAmbassadors: Developing Communications, Teamwork, and Leadership Skills for Graduate Students Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35207

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